I went to my local library, pulled every copy of the magazine I could find, then wrote out a paragraph of when the story was published and what the story was about. My published short in August was a plumber, reunion story. What I found was my themes were close to what they were publishing. That’s good and bad news. If they just published a cooking class story in October, my cooking class story probably wouldn’t find success until some time had passed.
Step two - Don’t give up. I know many authors, published authors, who have tried and failed to sell to Women’s World. There are a lot of reasons a good story doesn’t sell. It could miss the positive, upbeat tone the magazine is known for. It could have been the right story, but they just bought a story like it. When I looked at six months of stories, I was amazed at how many were ‘close’ in theme as the ones I’d sent in. Keep writing, keep submitting. That’s the only formula for success I know.
Step Three – Write tight. If nothing else, writing an 800 word story is an exercise in writing and editing to the bone. Do I need this sentence? Do I have filler (like, just, back) words? Can I punch up the verb to cut out words? Writing for other markets where you’re paid by the word, then going to a short, short like the Women’s World stories? You’re working your writer muscles. And if you really want a challenge? Write a mystery for them. 700 words including the solution.
Step Four – Another way to exercise your writing muscles is to try new venues. Writer’s Digest and The Writer both run annual contests. As does Family Circle and Redbook. Cheerios is even on the contest bandwagon with their Spoonful of Stories contest. And you can enter literary contests or just send your story to a literary journal. Want to try a new genre? Mystery and science fiction magazines are publishing new authors all the time.
Step Five – Find friends. There are several yahoo loops I’m on just for the conversations, including the WWwriter’s (Women’s World) and Truewriters (the confessional magazines.) Both of these loops keep members informed about upcoming opportunities, timeframes, and issues with the magazines. In addition, there’s at least one blog out there on writing for Women’s World (http://womansworldstyle.blogspot.com/ ) Kate actually teaches classes in the ins and outs of developing your stories. At Nat’l’s in Florida, I met several True writers and have kept in touch, even if they aren’t writing for the magazines anymore.
rejected. By you. Don’t reject yourself. Let others. Who knows, the one story I sold, I thought would never sell. If I’d decided to not send the story, I would have lost out on a great publishing credit.
Finally, Step Seven – Celebrate your success. I told myself when I sold to Women’s World, I’d buy me a new pair of shoes. I sold, and didn’t buy the shoes. Writing has a lot of opportunities to question
yourself or question your sanity. Don’t forget to celebrate even the little things. When a loopmate told me my story was on the grocery market shelves, I headed out into the night and bought five copies.
When the checker looked at me funny, I explained, I’d wrote the story on page 82. Me.
This year, I’m goaling to write 12 stories. I've already written and sent two. Who’s going to join me?